Tiny Shutters in the James Webb Telescope Improve its Vision

Article written: 25 Jan , 2007
Updated: 31 Jul , 2007
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Artist impression of the James Webb Telescope. Image credit: NASANASA has a new article on their site describing one of the technologies going into the mighty James Webb Space Telescope; the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. They’ve created an array of microshutters which will allow the telescope to dynamically block the light from nearby objects to make distant objects easier to see.

The problem they’re trying to solve is pretty easy to understand. Imaging you’re trying to see a flashlight a few km away in the darkness. No problem. But hold the flashlight beside a bright car headlight and you’re not going to be able to pick out the light from the flashlight from the glare of the headlight.

62,000 of these microshutters sit in front of the James Webb’s detector array. Astronomers can then instruct the telescope to close up any number of these shutters so that the light from bright objects is blocked, while dimmer objects are let in. The shutters will let astronomers view up to 100 different astronomical targets simultaneously, saving a lot of time.

Original Source: NASA News Release


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